Michael Adams’s individual gold medal was the standout of an uneven and sub-par England performance at the European team championship which ended at Halkidiki, Greece on Friday. The British champion scored an unbeaten 6.5/9, outplayed Ukraine’s star Vasily Ivanchuk in the decisive final round, and nosed out Armenia’s Levon Aronian for the top board gold.
Gawain Jones, 23, added to his growing reputation with zestful play and a 6/9 total, but David Howell, arriving straight from the middle of his university term, had four defeats in his five games. Overall England, seeded No 8, ended only 22nd among 38 teams.
Germany were the shock teamwinners, beating the Olympiad champions Armenia in the final round. Azerbaijan won silver and Hungary bronze, leaving top-seeded Russia, which lost twice early on, back in fifth place.
England’s target now is to do better at the 150-nation World Olympiad at Istanbul 2012. The key will be fielding a maximum strength squad including Luke McShane and Matthew Sadler who have full-time jobs and were unavailable for the Euroteams.